Here’s what it comes down to, for me:
I do not think illegally selling cigarettes and then pulling your hands back and telling somebody you’re tired of being picked on is sufficient grounds to be put in, if not a chokehold, at least a headlock, then tackled to the ground and knelt on. I do not think pulling your hands back and complaining constitutes a threat requiring this sort of action, nor do I think selling cigarettes marks you as a dangerous enough criminal to warrant this sort of behavior.
I am not convinced that a man surrounded by five (six?) cops was any reasonable flight risk, nor do I think the only possible way to handcuff this man who was surrounded by five cops was to put him in a headlock that quite possibly might have been a chokehold was to tackle him to the ground.
I don’t care if cops “do this to every criminal”, as I was discussing this criminal, not every criminal. Besides, I think this hurts the other side of the argument more than it hurts mine.
And lastly, just because we happen to agree, sort of, on this specific issue does not mean I don’t think the Mayor of NYC and Al Sharpton aren’t scumbags, because I do.
So that’s my “official” statement on this issue, for whatever that’s worth, which is nothing. But it’s out there.
UPDATE: Taken from my own comment:
The major objections seemed to be:
1) You don’t know what you would have done, you weren’t there.
2) He was following proper police procedure (tied up with “That wasn’t a chokehold”)
3) They do this to hundreds of criminals each day, and they don’t die
4) By pulling his hands away and arguing he was resisting arrest, and thus constituted a threat.
To which I respond:
1) Say I’m making a citizen’s arrest on Garner because I see him illegally selling cigarettes – perfectly legal. If I did what the police did to Garner, I’d be arrested for assault.
So what would I have done where I in the cop’s place? I don’t know, but I DO know that if I put him in a headlock and tackled him that would have been because of police conditioning, not because of anything I, personally, would actually do.
2) This hardly helps the argument; proper police procedure is horrible, then. If the police are teaching people to do this THEY should be sued.
3) Okay. So? That doesn’t mean they should be doing it.
4) This is literally the first time I’ve ever heard of a person pulling back their hands and arguing (without actually using threatening language) classified as “threatening behavior”. How does that constitute a threat?
I was then told it was because now he COULD throw a punch, since he was not under police custody. To which I respond that when a person pulls away from me and doesn’t threaten me I don’t have the grounds to tackle him because he might threaten me in the future. I doubt Gardner was a flight risk seeing as there were at least four other cops at the scene. He made no threat or threatening gesture. And now you want to tell me that cops have the right to put me in a headlock, throw me to the ground, and kneel on my head because I MIGHT be a threat in the future? Because I didn’t immediately listen to a policeman’s orders I’m automatically dangerous despite showing no signs of threatening behavior?